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October 29th, 2013

The Print Queens.

The Print Queens.

The team at Dandi have my dream office. Walls plastered with colourful inspiration boards, adorable homewares in every corner and baked goods displayed on cute cake stands.

It’s the perfect space for dreaming up printed tablecloths, bamboo platewares and bright aprons.

Dandi is an Australian homewares brand run by three creative, pattern obsessed girls – Mindi McBride, Manuela Strano and Caroline Davis. All very different and yet the perfect team, I spoke to the girls about what inspires them, their top tips for personalising their workspace and their best advice for hosting a stylish dinner party.

You’ll want to make-over your office immediately.

Chelsea xx

A Dynamic Trio.

Where did your passion for homewares begin?
We all studied Industrial Design so had an interest in product design right from the start. We shared a passion for interiors and creating beautiful objects and we naturally took a keen interest in homewares. Now we get to not only design but fill our homes with the things we love.

How did you meet each other?
We met working for a product design company in Balmain.

How do you juggle the workload and responsibilities between the three of you?
We share in the creative process; we find collaborating on designs is the best way to create a winning look. Each print gets passed through each other’s hands, all adding our little tweaks to make it perfect. We also do all the sales ourselves, attending two trade fairs each year. Then each of us has individual responsibilities. Mindi is at the helm of our website, blog and social media. She’s also a ridiculously good baker bringing in home cooked treats to fill our bellies. Manny is our graphics queen and does a beautiful job with packaging and our newsletters, she also seems to be the messy one! Caroline is at the wheel of new products and handles our production. She’s crazy about all things fabric, her linen cabinet is almost the size of a room. 

Describe an average week in the Dandi office.
Monday’s start with a rundown of the weekend over a pot of tea, a good chat and a catch up before Monday sets in with the usual busyness. Most of Monday is taken up with filling orders and packaging them up for our lovely customers. With new designs always underway sampling and pre-production seems to take up most of our week. 

Talk us through the creative process for designing a new collection.
We’re always in creative mode collecting inspiration and drawing new patterns. Each of us has a sketchbook which we take nearly everywhere we go. We always start a design with a hand sketch, we like the bumpy and shaky linework from a pencil. Then we scan them in and covert the artwork so it translates well for the screen printing process.

Once we have a few great ideas we print them large scale and pop them up on the studio wall and ‘live’ with each design for a week or so, every few days we seem to add an extra leaf or make a subtle change to a flower to ensure the design is absolutely perfect. Then it’s off to sampling and colour testing. When the Fedex packaging arrives with the samples we all squeal with excitement, it’s like opening a birthday present! Once the colours and the print is approved each sample is then product tested. It takes about four months for a design to go from sketch pad to the retail stores.  

Where do you find the inspiration for your prints?
We find most of our inspiration in nature and our surrounding environment. Whether just out for a stroll up to Darling Street in Balmain or out and about on the weekend in the bush or the beach, we’re constantly on the lookout for new concepts.

What is your favourite item in the current collection? 
We’re loving the new Succulent range, the bright citronelle green is great for the warmer months and the reverse printing style is something new for us.

What’s next for Dandi?
We’re adding some scrumptious new heart shaped oven mitt potholders for Christmas. We love them!

If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
“Professional cheese and wine taster living in Paris.” — Caroline
“Celebrity chef.” — Mindi
“Children’s book illustrator.” — Manny

Their Creative Space.

What are your top three tips for personalising your office space?
1. Bring in a few homely items like your favourite candle or a vase of flowers.
2. Add lots of colour and pattern, we cover everything in vibrant paper or fabric to make it our own, all our folders and books get ‘dandified’.
3. Music – we always have music to hum away to.

What is the best way to bring colour into your office space?
Make a huge pinboard and cover it top to bottom in bold and bright cards and magazine clippings of the things that inspire you.

How often do you update your creative space?
Weekly, when we find something we love it goes straight to the pinboard. We love Pinterest too!

What is your favourite thing about the Dandi office?
We have huge windows that let the sunlight and breeze in. It’s nice to hear the birds outside.

What is the most treasured item in the Dandi office?
The fabric scissors! The chocolate drawer is a close second.

Do you have any DIY pieces in your office?
We have loads! There’s so many ‘works in progress’ and prototypes made from paper and fabric lying about the studio. At the moment we have a giant 3m custom pinboard that we have been meaning to finish for a friend and seem to never get around to completing. 

Who has the messiest desk?!
This week the prize goes to Mindi, last week it was Caroline. Next week it will be Manny. It’s contagious.

Tips For The Home.

What are your top tips for mixing prints?
Find an element that links them together. It could be tonal or a pattern theme. It doesn’t have to be an overpowering element just a small hint that links back to the other so they sit well next to each other.

What’s your favourite homewares item to gift to friends?
It would have to be the Bamboo collections – all our friends have been going ga ga over them. We pile them high with tasty homemade baked treats. 

What are your top three tips for styling a dinner party?
1. Always have the table set before your guests arrive, that’s a must. You can’t be running about setting the table when you should be relaxing and drinking bubbles with your friends. 

2. Go over the top with the table decoration, have fun with it! We use lots of flowers and like to personalise each setting with a handwritten note or decoration.

3. Go with shared platters of food that you can plate up at the table. It’s easier than prepping each individual plate in the kitchen. You’ll have more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen.

What’s your favourite way to regularly update your home’s décor?
Being fabric loving ladies we tend to opt for fabric based homewares by updating our look with new cushions, tablecloths and soft furnishings.

Meet Caroline.

What inspires you?
My friends and family.

Describe your personal style in three words.
Colourful, pattern, fun.

What three things do you find yourself constantly wearing? 
I love my red nautical jacket, skinny leg jeans, and Polli necklace.

Tea Or Coffee? Both, one coffee each day with five tea chasers!
Favourite Flower… Magnolia.
Heels or Flats? Wedges – so comfy.
Style Crush… Grace Kelly.
Signature Scent… The One, Dolce and Gabbana.
Favourite City… Paris.
Favourite Cocktail… Singapore Sling.
Beauty product you can’t live without… Clinique Repairwear (I have a toddler!).
Every woman should own… a supersonic hairdryer; who has time to spare getting ready in the mornings.
Secret indulgence… Steamed dumplings.
Biggest fashion weakness… Bright dresses.
Next holiday destination… Fiji.
What’s on your bucket list? Swim with whale sharks.
Reading… Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes, trust me it’s the only hardcover book I can get my hands on.
Listening… In the Night Garden.
I need…. a bigger sewing room.
I want… a Dandi concept store in Paris, next door to a cheese shop!

Meet Manny.

What inspires you?
Friends, family, nature, art and design.

Describe your personal style in three words.
Casual, minimal, feminine.

What three things do you find yourself constantly wearing?
Sandals, scarves, and black jeans.

Tea Or Coffee? Coffee.
Favourite Flower? Poppies.
Heels or Flats? Flats.
Style Crush? Tilda Swinton.
Signature Scent? I don’t have one.
Favourite City? London.
Favourite Cocktail? Amaretto Sour.
Beauty product you can’t live without? Mascara.
Every woman should own? A comfortable pair of ballet flats.
Secret indulgence? Biscuits.
Biggest fashion weakness? Sunglasses.
Next holiday destination… Ireland & Italy.
What’s on your bucket list? See the Northern Lights.
Reading…. Antonio Carluccio: A Recipe for Life.
Listening… Ólafur Arnalds.
I need… a haircut.
I want… a new pair of sunglasses.

Meet Mindi.

What inspires you?
Vintage interiors and fashion, old Hollywood glamour, fine art.

Describe your personal style in three words.
Quirky, vintage, fun.

What three things do you find yourself constantly wearing?
Cardigans, floral jeans and chipped nail polish.

Tea Or Coffee? I love the occasional coffee and drink a ridiculous amount of green tea.
Favourite Flower… Flannel Flowers.
Heels or Flats? Flats for sure.
Style Crush… Nicole Richie and Jessica Alba.
Signature Scent… Vanilla.
Favourite City… Sydney followed closely by New York.
Favourite Cocktail… Peach Bellini.
Beauty product you can’t live without… Benefit Hoola Bronzing Powder (Instant summer glow!).
Every woman should own… a Dandi Pini.
Secret indulgence… Ice cream.
Biggest fashion weakness… ummm… eBay!
Next holiday destination… Skiing in Canada.
What’s on your bucket list? Safari in South Africa or Kenya.
Reading… Maya’s Notebook: A Novel by Isabel Allende.
Listening… Anything 80s, give me some Africa by Toto and I’m a happy girl.
I need…. More time in my day.
I want… a puppy.

Shop the latest Dandi collections at dandi.com.au

  • Caroline

    Thanks Paula & Chelsea, we loved having you in the Dandi studio for the day xoxoxoxo

  • Tess

    What a great interview, read it from start to finish! x

  • Mel

    Looks like a fabulous place to work!

  • Gratty

    Great interview, love it!!

  • Lisa Mckenzie

    What an amazing group of Women all so stylish in their own way and I love their ideas.

  • anastasiaC

    great interview!! I like their personal style and also their designs!

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